In the last episode: Once again, Mark, Sunni and Celia team up. This time they travel to the nearest police precinct. Mark finds himself interrogated by Detective Madison who asks about Monica De La Croix’s death. When the interview is over, Mark observes that the people being subpoenaed are those who work for the foundation. In an unusual move, only Sunni is asked to stay and be interrogated. Everyone else is sent home.
Mark tries to relax and put the day’s events in the back of his mind. He tries reading. He plays his favorite vinyl album. Nothing grabs his interest on television.
Surrendering to his subconscious, Mark decides to piece the facts of the last two days together. He begins his assessment with Sunni. Thinking about his encounter with her in the library. How odd it was really. The shock of a beautiful debutant hiding in a darkened library with a gun may have distracted him from the facts.
Can he believe her reason for her presence? Why was she so quick to provide full disclosure? Was he too quick to trust her story? Mark reassesses Sunni.
Sunni suspected trouble and trouble came. Did she know what was going to happen? She anticipated a robbery. The burglars came. She didn’t want to discuss with the police last night, yet today, she thought it a good idea. Was it coincidental that the police were coming to bring him in for questioning? Did she know? Was she testing his loyalty? Why did the police talk with Sunni but not Celia?
The barrage of questions is interrupted by the ringing of his cell phone. He jumps up and follows the noise. It is there near the door to the garage where he laid it.
Mark anxiously answers, “Mark Masters here. How can I help you?”
“It’s me, Sunni. I’d like to talk with you. When can I come by?”
“I’m ready, now, but I’ll stay available the rest of the day.”
“I’ll be right over. I’m hungry. What can I bring with me?”
“You choose. Anything.”
Unconsciously, Mark turns on the only radio. He thinks he may be the only person his age who listens to radio outside of his car. His ear suddenly radiates nostalgia.
“I’m not looking for somebody with superhuman gifts,” Mark softly sings the words. 1
He continues to sing along choking back the line, “Somebody I can kiss.” 1
An image of he and his pretty strawberry blonde fiancé eating dinner together in her apartment projects onto his mind’s eye. The bittersweet memory disappears as suddenly as it appeared interrupted by a knock at his front door.
He pulls the door wide open to Sunni carrying a large sack emblazoned with MICK’S AMERICANA. He signals for her to enter and then leads her into his kitchen.
“Did I waken you?” Sunni looks him in the eye as she empties the contents of the bag onto the kitchen table.
“No, I was listening to the radio while I waited for you to arrive.”
“It’s just that your eyes… oh, well, it doesn’t matter. I hope you’re not coming down with something.”
Mark assists without a word by arranging the plastic ware and napkins into a makeshift place setting for two. He becomes aware of the odd similarities of this and the earlier image.
Sunni reacts to Mark’s place setting by laying one styrofoam container at one and a second container at the other. She sits at the place setting nearest her.
“I hope you like barbecue, baked apples and green beans or dinner might be unpleasant for you.”
Mark honors her choice by sitting and partaking of a forkful of the barbecue. Sunni waits for his reaction.
“What do you think of the barbecue?” Sunni pokes a fork into her plate of it.
“It’s a bit different from barbecue I’ve had there, but very good.”
Sunni swallows her first portion, “It’s plant based.”
“Really. I think I like it better.”
Sunni smiles, “Good.” She lays her fork down and reaches in and pulls out another but smaller styrofoam container. “In case you didn’t, I purchased an order of pork barbecue.”
The two of them laugh. Mark realizes how therapeutic that is.
“What do you want to do with this, then?” Sunni holds up the smaller unopened container.
“Unless you want it…I mean you bought it after all.”
“No, no, I bought this for you.”
“I can eat it for lunch tomorrow when I return to the evil carnivore.”
Again, they find it easy to laugh. Mark hates his stupid loud laugh. On the other hand, he appreciates how freely and easily Sunni laughs.
Their silliness shrinks to static silence. Mark studies Sunni. Mark wishes he knew her better so he could determine how much to trust her. He wants so much to be able to trust her.
Several silent moments later, the meal not quite finished, Sunni sets her fork down, “I am sorry for dragging you into this De La Croix mess.”
“I had my chances to pull out. I just can’t.”
“Steve shared a preliminary autopsy. Are you interested to hear it?”
“Steve? Who’s Steve?”
“Lt. Sherman says that the coroner found traces of chemicals that indicate Monica was given a mickey.”
“A mickey – that means she was drugged, right?”
“A drug that normally just knocks a person unconscious – not… dead,” Sunni returns a bite of apples to the plate, lays her fork down and pushes away from the table.
Mark recognizes he has forgotten that these sisters have lost a loved one. He is ashamed of his callousness. He knows what that is like having said final farewells to parents and a fiancé.
“I’m sorry about Monica and so sorry for your loss,” Mark decides to leave the detective work to the detectives and console his friends.
Mark ends his meal and rises from the table. He circles the table, kneels next to Sunni and places an arm around her shoulders. Sunni seems to hesitate but then succumbs to Mark’s succor by resting her head on his shoulder. She sighs.
After only a few seconds, Sunni raises her head off Mark’s shoulder, “Please finish your meal.”
Mark responds to this request by taking Sunni by the hand and stands himself and her to their feet. He escorts her to the living room and slowly eases her and him to the couch.
Sunni sits quietly for a moment and takes a couple of deep breaths, “Please, Mark, I’m fine. I just need a minute.”
Mark nods as if he completely understands. In fact, he only speculates that up until this moment Sunni has not truly absorbed the full measure of her situation.
Mark excuses himself and disappears into the kitchen. Moments later, he returns with two glasses and a bottle of sparkling water.
“I don’t keep wine or alcohol in the house,” Mark pours a glass of sparkling water and hands it to Sunni.
Mark has lost interest in alcohol since a drunk driver ended Kate’s life. Putting the guilt on the drinking made it easier for him to forgive the drunk.
“This is just right,” Sunni takes a drink from the glass.
Mark pours himself a glass and then tops off Sunni’s, “Tell me about the Monica you knew.”
After taking another drink, Sunni smiles and shakes her head, “Really, if Monica chose where she’d like to die, she’d have chosen a party or a concert or dance.”
“That was the Monica I knew, too,” Mark offers to fill Sunni’s glass but she declines.
Mark watches Sunni sit staring at the bubbles in her glass so deep into her own thoughts. He notices for the first time how large and blue her eyes are. The light inside them radiates an intelligence coming from knowledge that is spawned out of goodness.2 He wonders how he could suspect her of evil intentions.
Sunni looks up and Mark becomes aware that he is gawking at her. Mark is certain she is accustomed to men staring at her. She smiles.
Mark blushes. He wants to apologize and explain that his thoughts were pure, but every attempt he comes up with sounds phony. He accepts her smile with one of his own.
“I need to confess something to you, Mark,” Sunni’s blue eyes turn gray as the light in them fades.
“Confessions are good,” Mark immediately thinks how silly that sounds as it stumbles out of his mouth.
“That key,” Sunni averts her glance away from Mark and back to the bubbles, “is something my father gave me to play with when I was younger.”
“So, what was the search of the house…?”
“I wanted you and Celia to see the journal.”
“So why the charade? Why not just get it and show it to us?”
“I thought… I hoped… I don’t know now what I thought.”
Mark’s thoughts blaze with betrayal as he assesses everything. He fights off feeling rage recalling that moment of staring down the barrel of a gun she held in her hand.
“What did you take from the safe?” Mark’s voice resonates with the stern, authoritative echoes of a teacher.
“That journal, that key, that gun,” Sunni who usually presents confidence and strength quietly draws from her purse a letter folded neatly as you would to mail.
“What’s this?” Mark snaps when Sunni offers the letter to him.
“This was also in the safe with the rest.”
Mark snatches the paper from Sunni’s hand, “What else was in that safe, Sunni? What else?”
“Read the letter, please and reserve your judgment of me for when you’re through,” Sunni’s tone turns defensive.
Mark’s facial expression does not soften as he opens the letter and begins to read. At one point, he looks up at Sunni with an inquisitive stare. After a few wordless seconds, he returns to reading.
Finished reading only one page, Mark’s light brown skin nearly pales to grey. He makes no sound. Mark watches Sunni watch him.
Tenderly, Mark offers back the letter to Sunni, “This is to you personally. I feel like I’m eavesdropping on a private conversation.”
“Please, read on. I need you to read this all. Please. Please.”
1”Something Just Like This,” Song by Coldplay and The Chainsmokers
2 2Peter 1:5
I write about what I'm thinking or what I've imagined in an effort to regain that childhood imagination and marry with my many years of real experiences. I'm getting better at it the more I write.I am a published author of two romantic intrigue novels.My books can be found at Amazon.com or if you want a personalized copy, by emailing me at email@example.com.